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The Polo at the Park Prestige Hagley Park Polo Classic

Polo at the Park: The Armstrong Prestige Hagley Park Polo Classic


Widely known as the Sport of Kings, polo is older than recorded history and yet, despite the ancient origins of this equine event, it is making its very popular mark on Christchurch later this month when the Armstrong Prestige Hagley Park Polo Classic returns to the city.

 

The Polo at the Park Prestige Hagley Park Polo Classic

 

 

More than 2,500 attendees headed into the city for the first iteration of the Armstrong Prestige Hagley Park Polo last year and, in 2019, the Sunday 27 January event is expected to be even bigger and better than before.  An exhilarating sport combining horsepower and athleticism, event spokesperson Sophie Gardner says polo players from around the country, and the world, will compete in the tournament with one aim – to lift the Hagley Park Polo Cup.

By holding the event in central Christchurch organisers hoped it would “draw a new audience”. “We encourage as many people as possible to come along and see what polo is about.” Sophie says last year’s event was a “fabulous day out”, filled with excitement, fashion, champagne and fast cars. Framed by the picturesque tree line of Hagley Park, the backdrop to the day is second to none.

 

Polo at the Park

This year Louis Champagne Bar is sponsoring the champagne and oyster garden. “With tickets from just $55 it is an affordable and wonderful excuse to enjoy the summer in the city,” Sophie says.  Event organiser Jimmy Wood, who is one of New Zealand’s highest handicapped professionals, will play at the event alongside his two brothers Charlie and Henry Wood as well as their father, ex-professional, Roddy Wood.

Along with the local home-grown talent, professional polo players from England, Argentina and Australia, will also attend. Sophie says unlike last year the event is fully ticketed. “Last year there was a free general admission area but not this year so people need to buy their tickets online in advance.”

For those wanting a VIP experience, catered tables are available in the Armstrong Prestige clubhouse marquee. There is a family friendly option available as well.

 

For further information see Facebook. Tickets can be purchased from
www.hagleyparkpolo.com

Programme for the day:

11:30am: Gates open

12pm: Champagne reception in the vip Armstrong Prestige clubhouse

12:30pm: Subsidiary polo final (play offs for 3rd and 4th)

1:30pm: Hunt parade and family friendly entertainment, interactive foot mallet displays for children

2:30pm: Armstrong power vs horse power

2:45pm: Team parade

3pm: The Armstrong Prestige classic final

3:30pm: Half time divot stomping and fashion in the field

4:15pm: Prizegiving

6pm: Official after party at Louis Champagne and Oyster Bar, 123 Victoria Street.

 



 

Heineken Urban Polo

Polo’s Popularity: Hagley Park plays host to a rousing polo match

What do you get when you take a visually stunning, superb Canterbury day, high fashion, high quality function in North Hagley Park? Seriously good fun is what. At this year’s inaugural Heineken Urban Polo, the ladies were looking fabulous and even the gentlemen had a pretty good shot at it. All the ingredients were there for an epic day in the Garden City.

Heineken Urban Polo

I was fortunate enough to be hanging out with Taylor Green, head of marketing for Heineken, giving me a great view of the DJ and the high-end crowd in attendance. “Given the overwhelmingly positive response we received last year, it was an easy decision for us to extend the event from two to four cities and give more Kiwis the chance to experience what we have to offer,” Taylor says.
“Heineken brings world-class events to life.”
I also caught up with Sam Hopkinson, player and partner of the Heineken Urban Polo. “We were very happy with the success of the day, the weather was kind to us and the field was an ideal surface to create a good spectacle of Urban Polo for all those that had never seen it before,” he says.
“The setting was quite magical, watching the polo as the sun went down in Hagley Park and I think it was my favourite event to date.”
Christchurch is leading the way through the development of young players, predominantly through school polo, driven by the Wood family and their Waireka Polo farm. But the sport still needs an injection of new energy, Sam says. “Polo in New Zealand needs some new energy, to continue to grow the sport it needs new events like the Heineken Urban Polo to do this,” he says.
“For anyone inspired by watching the Heineken Urban Polo and wanting to give it a go, they should be looking up Roddy or Charlie Wood immediately. The local Christchurch players and clubs have been very supportive of our event and helped make the day a great success.”
Different from the traditional polo played at the NZ Polo Open every year, the format has been adapted to a smaller field with simplified rules. Each competing team has three players, one less than traditional polo, and each match is shortened to 30 minutes for face-paced and high-intensity entertainment.
“We are polo on a smaller field, therefore fewer players per team, a larger softer ball and simplified rules to help spectators understand. I have added some extra changes for excitement,” Sam says.
“We liken ourselves to the seven-aside rugby or big bash cricket. All adaptations of traditional games to help create a better spectacle for those watching.”
So, for next year, consider preparing ahead of time, getting your tickets early and making your plan for the new kid in town. Divots don’t stomp themselves, so be there.